About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married, with spectacular stepdaughter, crazy dog, and cat living in the Capital District of New York State.

War and peace, the Advent edition

i_am_for_peace_logo (1)To the LORD in the hour of my distress
I call—and he answers me.
“O LORD, save my soul from lying lips,
from the tongue of the deceitful.”
What should he give you, what repay you,
O deceitful tongue?
The warrior’s arrows sharpened,
with red-hot coals from the broom tree!
Alas, that I live in Meshech,
dwell among the tents of Kedar!
I have had enough of dwelling
with those who hate peace.
I am for peace, but when I speak,
they are for war.
Psalm 120

One week ago today, I who –  to quote the psalmist – “am for peace” became consumed with the fire of my own anger. If you do not know what I am talking about, you can read the blog post from that day, but I’m not linking to it. Righteous anger is one thing, but that was something else! Again, referring to the psalm above, “red-hot coals from the broom tree” were Continue reading

Willing or not, still waiting

Emmanuel-god-with-us(REPOST: This is the text of a reflection that I had offered at St. Edward the Confessor on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 – during Evening Prayer.)
God is with us.

God is with us.

God is with us.

It doesn’t always feel like God-is-with-us, does it? Especially now. Typically we might find ourselves on December 18th, pretty deeply into the “are-we-there-yet?” stage. You know, that feeling where we find our “it’s-almost-Christmas” glee crisscrossing with high anxiety over all the things yet unaccomplished as we race towards December 25.

Anxiety or glee – neither one is especially rooted in our Advent journey of holy waiting, but both are very common things to feel. I don’t know about you, but I am in a state of mind and heart that says, “can-we-leave-now?” rather than “are-we-there-yet?” And the “God-is-with-us” matter might be harder than usual to grasp. This makes me wonder if perhaps “are-we-there-yet?” and “can-we-leave-now?” are the wrong Continue reading

True and holy – Advent wisdom

thumbMany years ago I read that many people fail their climbs of the highest mountains in the last 50 feet. I can’t seem to find that factoid today, but it has stayed with me because it seems like it is true for a multitude of journeys. What about this journey? Have you had a calm Advent? One filled with peaceful waiting and anticipation? One where we make room for Jesus?

So far, so good for me, but Continue reading

Make space

Dec-2014The disciples of John told him about all these things. John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” When the men came to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”- Luke 7:18-20

Today’s Gospel reminds that that even John, the one who was very clear that Jesus was coming, was unsure of the Jesus that actually showed up. We wait for Jesus now, the same Jesus who has been and always will be in our midst.

Maybe we don’t recognize him because the Jesus we expect is not always the Jesus we  get. It is always a good time to stop and reflect on the Jesus we expect, hope for, believe in.

If we are seeking the Jesus who will take “our side” and “hates all the same people we do,” (thank you Anne) might want to go deeper. Today’s Gospel invites us to that place. The question remains, will we go? And if we do, will we believe?

Advent is the time for making room for Christ to be born in each of us. As I am constantly reminded, that means de-cluttering the messy manger of my own heart. Otherwise, where will unexpected Jesus be born? The one I may “expect” is the one of my own making. Today I pray that I haul that image to the dump, creating the space where love comes in. Want to give me a hand? I could never do this alone. Could you?

Gun rack in the manger redux

sandy-hook-child-victim-collageOn December 5 I published one of the most-read posts for this blog, A gun rack in the manger. Today I will post the link to it, and a bit more. I am very weary of the violence in our nation. My weariness stems from societal, economic, cultural, and religious challenges that keep us from doing anything concrete in the wake of the death of the Children of Sandy Hook. Today is the third anniversary of the slaughter. God have mercy.

Here is the link to the original blog, A gun rack in the manger. Here is a link to remind you that ever since Sandy Hook a child 12 or under has died every other day from Continue reading

Gaudete Sunday – Rejoice!

imagesAt a time that stood in the shadow of notorious papal scandal and other church corruption, a time of great distrust of the church, a saint came along to who would change some of this. This man had a great desire to counter these feelings of suspicion and a lack of trust, and replace them with a love of the Lord. If you were walking around Rome in the 16th century you might have spied him, perhaps standing in a piazza or on a street corner. He might stand out because he was frequently seen wearing absolutely ridiculous clothing and sometimes with half of his beard shaved off. What a sight! It was in this way that St. Philip Neri helped to change the course of church history, and bring many souls to know Christ.

While Neri is known for his extraordinary evangelizing, it was this offbeat approach that helped change lives. By joyfully using his extraordinary sense of humor, St. Philip left a huge imprint upon the church and the world. All this was accomplished by Continue reading